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Recognizing and Understanding Heroin Addiction Symptoms and the Steps Necessary for Recovery

Heroin use is growing in many areas, and the dangers are becoming more prevalent. From 2010 to 2015, there was a sharp increase in the number of deaths related to heroin overdose, from less than 5,000 per year to over 14,000. These numbers continue to increase when heroin is combined with other substances.

Heroin addiction symptoms may be difficult to recognize at first. Regardless, recovery is more successful if the condition is treated early. For this reason, it's important to be able to recognize the most subtlest of signs.

When you have a heroin addiction, the urge to use is often so strong, you can't think of anything else until you get high. Maybe you're reading this because you're interested in finding out more information about drug rehab. Regardless of how long you've been using, heroin addiction symptoms can often be unsettling. If you're looking for a way to get help for your addiction, you're in the right place.

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Why is Heroin Addictive?

Heroin is a very addictive substances. It impacts the area of the brain responsible for pain and pleasure. When the person uses, they don't feel any pain as long as they are high. They do feel intense pleasure, which is the reason they keep using.

Because the drug is providing these effects, the brain doesn't need to make the cells which do this job. As it stops making those cells, the brain requires more and more of the heroin instead.

As the person comes down, they will experience physical symptoms of withdrawal. These symptoms may be very painful. They will seek out more of the drug to prevent these symptoms and to feel the pleasure once again. This explains in part why this drug is so addictive. In fact, it's possible to become addicted with your first use.

Heroin Addiction Symptoms

It's possible that you've noticed that when you use heroin, the enjoyment of the high only lasts a short time. After that, your addiction symptoms start to kick in, and they can be bothersome.

Sometimes they can be downright dangerous. Especially if you have a prior medical condition.

Heroin addiction symptoms include:

  • Depression
  • Mood swings
  • Anxiety
  • Hostility
  • Agitation
  • Irritability
  • Weight loss
  • Scabs or bruises on the body
  • Delusions
  • Hallucinations
  • Paranoia

This is only a short list. There are many other symptoms of heroin addiction.

People who have been addicted to heroin for months or even years will show other signs. They will look unkempt and haggard, often from not showering for days or changing clothes. They lose interest in everything around them except for their drug use. Many times, a heroin addict will lose their job and home, becoming homeless and penniless.

The addict may be in and out of jail as they steal and do other things to get money for their addiction. They will often appear sickly and may have a constant cold as their immune system is weakened. In time, the person will likely develop chronic health conditions from the damage done to their body. This may include breathing and heart issues.

Heroin Use and Coexisting Disorders

People with a mental health disorder may turn to heroin to help them deal with the symptoms of their condition. This is known as coexisting disorders when a person has both a mental illness and addiction. However, a unique trait of heroin abuse is the fact that it can cause a mental illness as well.

Heroin Addiction Symptoms

With continued use, over time a person may develop paranoia and have hallucinations from the drug. They may develop severe anxiety or depression because the drug alters the chemistry in the brain.

A person who has a mental health disorder may not want others to know of the condition so they use heroin to hide their symptoms. For instance, the following conditions are often part of a coexisting disorder:

  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • PTSD
  • Bipolar disorder
  • Schizophrenia
  • Obsessive-compulsive disorder

Heroin can mask the symptoms of many mental health disorders because it depresses the central nervous system. You feel more relaxed and even fatigued so you aren't anxious or manic. At first, this may seem like the perfect answer for someone who has been suffering silently. However, the system becomes used to having the heroin, so it requires more to mask the symptoms. In time, the mental health disorder will become worse with the addiction.

The Importance of Heroin Drug Detox

Because heroin is such a powerful drug, it can be nearly impossible to quit using it on your own. Not to mention that it can also be dangerous if it's not done in a proper medical setting. That's what you'll encounter when you choose to go through heroin drug detox.

You'll be under the observation of a team of medical professionals. They will make sure your vital signs are properly managed. When you go through drug detox, you might have some withdrawal symptoms. Those are managed with medication.

Like alcohol detox, this procedure allows you to put the difficult nature of withdrawal behind you.

One of the most dangerous aspects of heroin addiction is the withdrawal symptoms you experience any time you try to stop using. You may have severe flu-like symptoms along with irritability and paranoia during withdrawal. Most people will seek out more of the drug to stop these symptoms. With detox, you need to complete the process so you can begin treatment.

Relapse is likely with a heroin addiction if you try to stop using on your own. In a clinical setting, you can be monitored and medications given to help you manage withdrawal.

Medicated detox involves using certain medications to reduce or eliminate withdrawal symptoms. Some people will continue taking the medication through treatment to help them avoid relapse.

Drug Treatment for Your Heroin Addiction Symptoms

Going to get some form of professional substance abuse treatment is crucial to your success in recovery. Heroin rehab will help you leave your life of addiction behind for good. This way you can begin to focus on creating new goals for yourself.

Remember, you might be in treatment for a while, so be patient. Getting clean is a process that doesn't happen overnight, but you will learn so much along the way. You'll go to 12 step meetings and participate in drug counseling in an effort to give you the professional and peer support that you need.

You'll attend group meetings where you can find support from others who are going through a similar situation. Many programs offer alternative therapy to help with treatment because heroin is such a difficult drug to stop using.

Options for Substance Abuse Rehab

When you go to drug rehab for a heroin addiction, you have the option going to outpatient treatment or inpatient treatment. Both are excellent choices, and they will allow you to work through the issues that led to your addiction.

Outpatient treatment allows you to continue working, going to school or caring for your family while you attend therapy. This type of program is best suited for those who have recently begun abusing heroin. They will need a strong support system of family and friends to help them maintain recovery.

Inpatient programs are best for those with a severe addiction problem or those who have been addicts for a long time and have no support. You stay at the facility while you receive treatment for up to 30 days or longer in a residential rehab center. The benefit of this type of program is you can focus solely on recovery and avoid the negative influences in your life.

How Can I Help a Family Member Who Shows Symptoms of Heroin Addiction?

Now that you've learned about the heroin addiction symptoms which indicate a problem, you may wonder what you can do for your addicted loved one. The first step is to talk to them and try to get them to see the problem. Unfortunately, conversation doesn't usually work if a person has become addicted. They may realize the problem but feel unable to do anything about it.

Many times, an addict has tried to stop using and failed. They may be afraid of detoxing and drug treatment because they can't imagine life without heroin. Addiction isn't a lack of willpower but a disease that often cannot be controlled on your own.

You can host an intervention for your loved one who is addicted to heroin. You can find intervention services at many drug rehab centers. You will get together with family and friends and talk to your loved one about their addiction. You would be surprised at how effective it is to have multiple people giving the same message. The intervention service will also plan for immediate admittance into rehab if the person agrees.

Once the person has gone through addiction recovery, you must realize they are still at risk for relapse. They will need your continued support as they work to rebuild their lives. While heroin addiction is painful and debilitating, life without the drug can seem daunting for the person who has been using for years.

Ashwood Recovery

Finding Alcohol Rehab and Heroin Drug Rehab in Boise, Idaho

Here at Ashwood Recovery, we are able to help you find the type of help you need for your addiction.

We understand the challenges you're facing, and we can assist you with finding a program that fits you. It can be scary to reach out and ask for help, but the fact that you've found this page proves that you are in need.

Ashwood Recovery is an outpatient program located in Boise, Idaho. We offer a holistic intensive outpatient rehabilitation approach. We provide an assessment so that our staff can create an individualized treatment plan for each person to meet their needs. We also recommend inpatient facilities if we feel the person needs another type of care.

We don't just treat the addict but we offer therapy for the family as well. We understand that addiction impacts many people. Healing of broken relationships is essential whenever possible.

We want you to know that we're here for you, and we're eager to answer any questions you might have about what to expect when you go to drug treatment. Please contact us today for more information.

Talk to a Rehab Specialist

Our admissions coordinators are here to help you get started with treatment the right way. They'll verify your health insurance, help set up travel arrangements, and make sure your transition into treatment is smooth and hassle-free.

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